NASHVILLE, TENN. (WSMV) - Since the pandemic began, WeGo has seen its ridership cut in half. Now empty seats on WeGo busses and star trains could create an even bigger funding challenge for public transit moving forward.

“It’s easy to look at where we are right now and say maybe we don’t need to worry about more transit, or invest in transit, are people even going to ride it?” said Alexia Poe.

Poe works for Moving Forward, an organization made up of business and community leaders who focus on transit projects in Middle Tennessee.

Poe says a lack of support for transit now could cost Middle Tennessee's economic recovery later.

“What we’ve seen in some research when you look back to the Great Recession of 2009, a lot of the communities and cities that recovered more quickly had better transit structures so people could get going back to work and other areas,” Poe said.

Over the next several months Moving Forward will continue to call for money and a transportation plan that covers not just Nashville, but the entire Middle Tennessee region.

“The one thing that successful transit systems have in common is dedicated funding. That’s something we don’t have here,” Poe said.

Moving Forward says the Middle Tennessee region is the only area of its size in the country without a local, dedicated source of funding for transit.

They say this limits the region’s ability to receive state and federal funding, which often requires a local match.

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